Astronauts Temporarily Move to Return Spacecraft as Satellite Debris Threatens ISS

ISS Astronauts Crew's Quick Action Amid Satellite Debris Threat | CIO Women Magazine

Source – 24usupdate

Late on Wednesday, nine ISS astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) executed a swift maneuver, briefly relocating to their docked return spacecraft as a precautionary response to a satellite breakup in low Earth orbit. According to a concise update from NASA on social media, the Expedition 71 crew, which includes personnel from NASA, Roscosmos, and the European Space Agency, initiated the procedure shortly after 9 p.m. EDT.

This action was described as a standard safety protocol to safeguard crew members during potential orbital debris hazards. The specific satellite responsible for the event was not disclosed by NASA, although satellite tracking firm LeoLabs identified it as the non-operational Russian spacecraft Resurs-P1, also known as SATNO 39186.

Satellite Breakup and Orbital Risks

LeoLabs reported that the debris event occurred between 9:05 a.m. EDT and 8:51 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, generating over 100 pieces of trackable debris. This incident underscores the ongoing challenges posed by space debris, a concern amplified by the increasing number of satellites and debris in orbit around Earth. The Resurs-P1 satellite, launched in 2013 and operational until December 2021, served various applications from defense surveillance to environmental monitoring. The accumulation of space debris is monitored closely by agencies like NASA and NORAD, with over 45,300 tracked objects currently cataloged, excluding non-trackable debris.

Impact on Space Operations and Future Missions

NASA’s safety procedures dictate that ISS astronauts may seek refuge in their return spacecraft in the event of imminent debris risks, although such incidents remain statistically rare. This precaution mirrors past events, such as the intentional destruction of a Russian satellite in November 2021, which triggered similar safety measures aboard the ISS.

Meanwhile, the ongoing Boeing Starliner mission, originally slated for a 10-day Crew Flight Test, faces delays following issues with thruster systems and helium supply. Despite setbacks, NASA and its partners continue to prioritize safety and operational readiness in space missions, with updates pending on the Starliner’s scheduled departure and subsequent activities on the ISS.

This incident serves as a reminder of the delicate balance of operations in space, where proactive measures and continuous monitoring are essential to ensuring the safety of ISS astronauts and the resilience of orbital assets. As agencies and private entities collaborate to navigate these challenges, the focus remains on advancing space exploration while mitigating risks posed by orbital debris and other unforeseen events.

Also read: SpaceX Successfully Deploys 20 Starlink Satellites In Latest Launch



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